We desperately need to turn this ship around

Re:“Let’s try to ‘get-tough’ approach to religion, for a change” (Essay, Jan. 6). 

Russell Shaw’s column struck a raw nerve. His words are bold and impolitic, but ring all too true. For decades now, the American Church has, for the most part, accommodated itself to the secular agenda rather than challenging it. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat documents this phenomenon in his recent book “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.”  

The Church mounted a muted and largely unsuccessful response to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and the subsequent rise in cohabitation, fornication, the pornification of our culture, the rise in out-of-wedlock births, and the weakening of marriage and family life. The response by the bishops to legalization of abortion on demand by the Supreme Court in 1973 was insufficiently robust.  

The encyclical Humanae Vitae, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1968, was met with disdain or indifference by a large part of the Church. Dissent against it was not forcefully dealt with, giving rise to widespread and unchallenged heterodoxy within the Church and cafeteria Catholicism among the laity. It continues today to gather dust on the shelf.  

After the Second Vatican Council, a doctrine- and dogma-free “Catholic Lite” catechetics emerged, which left generations of Catholics ignorant of fundamental Church teachings and uninterested in participating in Church life.  

Let us pray in this Year of Faith that the New Evangelization gathers more than lip service and that heroic faithful leaders will emerge to turn the barque of Peter around from its path of accommodation and self-destruction.  

Arthur Lavis, Montvale, N.J.

Answers needed

Re: “CRS head reflects on first year on the job” (News Analysis, Jan. 13). 

Brian Fraga might have asked Carolyn Y. Woo to explain fully the recent controversy of the apparent pro-contraception agreement between CARE and Catholic Relief Services. This episode has turned off many donors to a one-time great Catholic organization famous for actually passing on some 97 percent of its contributions to worthy causes in the best traditions of Catholic charities. 

The fact that Fraga’s article chose not to delve too deeply in CRS operations and its leaders has done OSV readers a disservice. CRS really needs to clear the air on this and other issues. “I don’t know” is not an answer. 

Steven J. Gasper, San Antonio, Texas

Pro-abortion propaganda

It is frustrating when those in Church leadership positions or those having a voice in influential Catholic publications seem to accept unquestioningly the negative stereotypes that the pro-abortion industry have been pushing for the last 40 years. 

This unthinking (unwitting?) acceptance of pro-abortion propaganda was again displayed in the interview with Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of CRS (News Analysis, Jan. 13), when the first question Brian Fraga asked her was: “How do we get beyond the social justice vs. pro-life mindset?” There is no such mindset among pro-lifers that I know. Yet asking the question grants the premises that pro-abortionists have been working diligently to embed in U.S. public opinion — that pro-lifers only care about fetuses, not children once they’re born; that the only way to show concern for the poor is to support government programs; and, conversely, that any opposition to such programs shows unconcern, if not outright hatred, for the poor. 

Michael Sullivan, Lincoln, Neb.

Cherished moments

Re: “Communal sacrament” (Pastoral Answers, Jan. 20). 

In reference to the question about distracting hymn singing during the distribution of holy Communion, the answer given quoted the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that the emphasis was on the “communitarian” character of those receiving. Is not the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the re-enactment of Christ’s gift of his Body and Blood to man in atonement for our sins? Is not our primary attention to this and not to “the community.” Should not our thoughts be on this wondrous event? Our presence at Mass is to adore God alone. When we receive him, we should cherish those moments in silence. 

Phyllis Armeli, Blue Bell, Pa.

Critical link

Re: “Ban on same-sex attraction therapy to take effect” (News Analysis, Dec. 30) and “Biased viewpoint” (Catholic Journal, Dec. 30). 

These were very interesting articles, and I found them to be quite related. The ban on same-sex attraction therapy is, indeed, “viewpoint discrimination.” 

Susan Molnar, via email

Practical article

A million thanks for your “10 rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage” (In Focus, Jan. 13), by Brandon Vogt. Thanks for the clear explanations in down-to-earth terms for all readers. This is the best “marriage defense” I have read for years. I appreciated two other articles by Brandon Vogt in this same issue dealing with the same-sex marriage debate and understanding the definition of marriage.  

Father Harold Brown, C.PP.S., Bellevue, Ohio